Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Let's Celebrate How We Blew Things Up By Blowing Things Up

Around 9 o'clock on Sunday people will gather together in grassy fields and rooftops across the country (and in Santa Clara) to watch the kinder, gentler side of the destructive fury found in cannon fire and gunpowder. Good times!

Don't get me wrong, I love fireworks. Who doesn't? That percussive thump that hits you in the chest a split second after the blinding dazzle of the rocket exploding... it's like monosyllabic poetry: "BOOM. Boom, boom BOOM." But it has always struck me odd that we would celebrate winning a war in which cannons and gunpowder did so much damage with cannons and gunpowder. It's like celebrating your recovery from hypothermia by taking an ice bath. Granted, the rockets are aimed up as opposed to at you, but still... it's a little weird, no?

We are certainly not the first or only group of people to celebrate important events by blowing things up. Long, long before the United States was even an twinkle in Great Britain's lustful eye, the ancient Chinese had mixed a few chemicals together and created the beginnings of modern fireworks. Originally they were just noise makers to scare away unwanted spirits. Over the years though, they became more sophisticated, more colorful, and, well, more noisy. I don't know whether or not spirits still find them frightening, but it is scientific fact that they terrify every dog within a ten mile radius.

So this Sunday, lock up the pets, grab a coat and join pretty much every Santa Claran as they descend upon Central Park to enjoy the boom. Maybe you'll even make some of your own monosyllabic poetry to accompany it (i.e. "ahhhhh").
posted by jw